The incomparable debut collection from the Finnish science fiction guru.
M. G. Soikkeli belongs to the absolute top names in new Finnish science fiction literature. The most notable Finnish sci-fi prize, the Portti magazine competition, has already been won by Soikkeli on three occasions. Longing for Mars was also nominated for the Tähtivaeltaja Prize for best published Finnish science fiction book in 2008.
The stories in Longing for Mars, which expertly plumb the different trends in the genre, show that sci-fi is more than entertainment. Soikkeli’s sociological short stories are a splendid example of the possibilities for the science fiction short story as literature addressing even the most sensitive of topics. However, Soikkeli’s short stories also include excitement, subdued humor, and dizzying speculation both about the development of the sciences and of society. The short stories in Longing for Mars are passionate studies of the possibilities of being human in a world of increasing technological advancement.
Markku Soikkeli (pen name M. G. Soikkeli, b. 1963) is a Finnish science fiction author and student of literature. Soikkeli holds a PhD and works at the Tampere University Department of Literature and Arts. Previously Soikkeli has served as a lecturer in Finnish literature at the University of Turku and as a visiting professor. Soikkeli also works as a critic, reviewing both film and literature. Soikkeli was the host of the Kirja A&Ö (‘Book ?&?’) television show until 2000.
“Soikkeli’s short story collection demonstrates that in skillful hands science fiction is like a vitamin shot straight to the brain, stimulating thought and opening up new worlds.” -Vesa Sisättö, Helsingin Sanomat newspaper
“This bewitching short story collection masterfully traverses several styles of science fiction.” -Tähtivaeltaja Prize committee statement
“Translated into English these stories would be good enough for presentation in the top markets abroad.” – Toni Jerrman, Tähtivaeltaja sci-fi magazine
Just got back last week from three days with the Boy Scouts in the Red Castle area of the high Uintas. Hiked in ~11 miles the first day and then toured the lakes the next day, adding another good 12 miles. We had rain, sleet, and snow most every day for a while, intermingled with sun. Hiked out the third day. The fishing was good, but I wish I would have taken my photo gear instead. One boy firmly established that pants are required equipment in the back country. I’m also pretty sure now that ponchos are not actually rain gear. Oh, and jungle hammocks appear to be the one true tent alternative
A story about people’s need to preserve their loved ones, both dead and alive, but also the need to conceal their wrongdoing from the eyes of others.
On a mild May day, as Finland is celebrating its victory in the Ice Hockey World Championships, a violent crime takes place in the depths of a concrete suburb. The murderer turns out to be Olavi Finne, a lonely old man who can’t explain what happened. He’s locked up in a mental institution.
Over ten years later, thirty-year old Mikael is assigned to be Finne’s designated nurse. Mikael’s life is in crisis: his spouse is seriously ill, and Mikael is suffering from the trauma resulting from a violent episode at work. Death and a continual state of fear hang over his life as very tangible threats.
Being assigned to the seemingly harmless Olavi was supposed to have made Mikael’s life easier. But the men’s caregiver-patient bond rapidly begins to grow tighter, as Mikael grows interested in the curious stories related by his odd patient.
Gradually Mikael begins to doubt the patient record, according to which Olavi is simply an old man suffering from schizophrenia. His stories of the possibility of eternal life and toying with the idea of gaining victory over death instil a new, bizarre hope in Mikael.
Shrouds is simultaneously a dark and intense story about the power of the human mind as well as a merciless depiction of the harsh life at a mental institution.
“The ending offers a surprise which upgrades a fine story to an excellent one.” Metro
I recently finished a sample translation for the Elina Ahlbäck Agency of Leena Lehtolainen‘s novel Tappava säde, the current working title of which is The Killing One.
Leena Lehtolainen is the bestselling female crime author in Finland. Her new titles head straight to #1 on the Finnish bestseller lists. In addition to her career as an author, she has also worked as a literary researcher, columnist, and critic. Lehtolainen published her first novel at the age of 12; this work of juvenile fiction Ja äkkiä onkin toukokuu (”And Suddenly It’s May”) appeared in 1976. Five years later her novel Kitara on rakkauteni (”My Guitar is My One True Love”), about a teenage band, was published.
The 1993 work Ensimmäinen murhani (”My First Murder”) kicked off Lehtolainen’s series of crime novels, which through its distinctly down-to-earth heroine, Maria Kallio, has brought an enthusiastically received female perspective to the male-dominated detective genre.
The forthcoming Maria Kallio novel, Minne tytöt kadonneet (”Where Have All the Young Girls Gone”), is already the eleventh in this bestselling crime series. Recently Lehtolainen started a new thrilling trilogy with another convincing female lead, Hilja Ilveskero. The first novel of this trilogy, Henkivartija (“The Bodyguard”), came out in 2009. Lehtolainen has also published outside the crime genre, most recently the work Luonas en ollutkaan (”I Wasn’t With You After All”, 2007). Translations of Leena Lehtolainen’s works have already been published in 15 languages.
Read more about Lehtolainen’s work and a sample of The Killing Onehere.
An indispensable book for anyone who sleeps! This book has everything, from instructions for choosing a bedtime toy to a troubleshooting chart for insomniacs. As a bonus, the book includes the world’s most boring bedtime story. When goddaughter Satu is coming to spend the night at Tatu and Patu’s house, the boys go all out in preparation. Since they’ll have to put her to bed, they’ve composed a new treatise entitled On Dreams, Drowsiness, Bedtime, and Lovely Lullabies or O.D.D.B.A.L.L.
The book explains how to choose the perfect bedtime toy to achieve the optimum stuffed-toy density. There is a troubleshooting diagram for when sleep just won’t come. The boys also figure out how the length of fingernails affects back-scratching and how the soulfulness quotient of a lullaby affects the sleeper’s ability to achieve drowsiness.
The book also tells what really happens when you sleep and leads Tatu and Patu on a wild adventure in dreamland. The true meaning of sleep is made clear, and the terrifying consequences of prolonged night-owling are only too clearly revealed.
(A full English translation is available upon request.)